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According to the Los Angeles Times, federal agents this morning (Jan. 24) raided four Southern California museums in the opening move of a five-year investigation of an alleged smuggling pipeline that may have funneled stolen Southeast Asian and Native American artifacts into museums. The Mingei International Museum in San Diego was one of the targets. The other museums raided by Customs, the IRS, and other agencies were the L.A. County Museum of Art, Pasadena's Pacific Asia Museum, and Santa Ana's Bowers Museum.

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Comments

Anon92107 Jan. 25, 2008 @ 1:41 p.m.

Good Grief, wouldn’t you know that my wife’s and my favorite museum, with it’s most wonderfully provocative collection of cultural arts and crafts from around the world, might be a victim worldwide corruption.

San Diego’s sewer of political corruption is overflowing everything worthwhile in San Diego.

I wish the FBI would find some time to investigate San Diego’s out of control corruption by U-T controlled politicians such as Sanders, their judge-politicians such as Murphy and their lawyer-politicians such as Dumanis that you report on continuously Don.

Maybe you should send the FBI an complete notebook with copies of all your weekly investigative reports so they can’t continue to look the other way.

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Don Bauder Jan. 25, 2008 @ 9:52 p.m.

Response to post of 4:50 p.m. It sounds like you are quoting from a media report -- at the time, a favorable one. In any case, your report is intriguing, but once again, I cannot comment. Best, Don Bauder

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 26, 2008 @ 8:03 a.m.

"Non Profit"! What an oxymoron that term is today.

Non profits need to be much more heavily regulated toay based on the tax losses they generate.

Far too many abuse their non profit status.

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hellosandiego Jan. 25, 2008 @ 2:55 p.m.

The Mingei's current director Rob Sidner has no formal education in the arts or business other than running a failed gallery after leaving the priesthood. Mr Sidner received the position as reward for playing lapdog and yes man to former director Martha Longenecker for 15 years. According to Mr Sidner "The Mingei was created for tax incentives for the wealthy". As a public museum receiving millions annually in public funds and donations, Mr Sidner nor any of the museums staff is qualified to manage these funds, and it worries me where this money actually goes. The museum routinely accepts many donations of artifacts and other expensive objects, to only turn around and sell them for profit after the required IRS waiting period. A number of key employees continue to benefit with the luxury of decorating their homes with monetarily valuable and rare items such as rugs, art works, furnishings & jewelry, by "storing" these items in their homes while the 3 year waiting period lapses and often longer. There is much more here than meets the eye and the authorities are encouraged to dig a little deeper.

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Don Bauder Jan. 25, 2008 @ 9:47 p.m.

Response to post of 1:41 p.m.: This is just a raid following five years of information-gathering. The feds have not made their case yet. However, so many other museums have voluntarily returned items to foreign countries after getting pressure that there is a pall over the entire art museum industry. And it is an industry, albeit purportedly non-profit. Best, Don Bauder

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Anonymous Jan. 25, 2008 @ 4:50 p.m.

Don;t overlook the very ambitious expansion plans using money from art that is to be sold....

"Rob Sidner explained that after two years of renovation (and $4,000,000) the Escondido location opened this past December (2003). The renovation joined the north and south mezzanines of the old Penney’s building with east and west mezzanines, creating a beautifully framed gallery that is larger than their Balboa Park gallery.

Rob explained that the vision continues to build satellite galleries in smaller communities around the country, using the Escondido location as a site to store and stage exhibitions to be sent out to the other galleries. The Escondido location consists of the gallery, library, store, theater and staging and storage areas. He explained that the Museum has purchased the adjacent building to the east and for the short term will continue renting to the restaurant while selling donated art and items (that do not meet museum quality) out of the farthest east portion of the new building."

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Don Bauder Jan. 25, 2008 @ 9:49 p.m.

Response to post of 2:55 p.m. Those are stinging charges. I do not know if they are true, because my lifelong specialty has been private sector scams, in the last ten years branching into the public sector, and I have not followed non-profits. So I cannot comment. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Jan. 26, 2008 @ 10:09 a.m.

Response to post of 8:03 a.m.: Yes, there are multiple abuses in so-called non-profits -- particularly tax abuses. Salaries are often far too high. Bureaucracies cover up the muck. Best, Don Bauder

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